Today is world prematurity day and merely 365 days ago I was sitting in the chair you are sitting in. Our Sienna Faith decided at 32 weeks that she would make her grand entrance into this world on 14 November 2015. So on world prematurity day 2015, the concept of NICU and a prem baby was still a very new concept to me.
To the mom and dad sitting in the NIUC, please know firstly that you did NOTHING wrong! I blamed myself for such a long time, maybe I should not have worked those hours, maybe I should have rested more, maybe put my feet up. The reality is, no matter what you did, it is NOT your fault! Babies come early all the time and ours are one of those that have decided, I want to meet the world and I want to come NOW.
You will eventually get used to the bells, smells and know the meaning of the numbers. Goodness me – that must’ve been one of the hardest things for me. Walking into that room with that smell, that sterile smell, the smell of the hand wash still haunts me to this day. The sounds, I know in your heart every time an alarm goes off you breathe a sigh of relief when it’s not YOUR baby’s bells. The numbers, oxygen just get to 100, please near 100, please. The sound of that breathing machine.
Whether this baby is your first or your fifth, this is a BLOODY scary experience, how did we get here? Sienna is our youngest child and Erin is only 3,5 years older than her. How do I change a nappy of such a tiny human? I remember only being confident doing it when a nurse was near. What if I hurt her when I change her?
About the holding part, wow this was super, super hard for me. It felt as if I carried this child for 32 weeks, had a c section to get her out (and I was completely out as my spinal block never worked) and then I wasn’t allowed to hold her – SAY WHAT? When Sienna was born I never saw her (as I was under general anesthetic) and I wasn’t allowed to go into the NICU because I had a catheter? She’s my child and I’m not allowed to see her. I got to see pictures of her that Damien took on his phone…. Nevertheless, I managed to keep my chin up. Day 2 came, I woke up early, showered, c section scar aching, put make up on – I’m going to meet my girl! Off with the nurse I went, in the wheelchair (my brain thinking, this pain is killing me) and I met her. My beautiful, thin tiny 2kg baby. Tubes, pipes, bells, the smell of that damn hand sanitizer. BUT I COULDN’T HOLD HER.
My heart sank. Feelings inside my head said “Amy you have to be strong for Damien, Amy you have to be strong for your 3.5 year old at home” To the mom and dad sitting in the NICU, I say “No!!!!” you do NOT have to be strong, why should you? This is a terrible thing seeing your child from the second they are born fight for their lives, if you want to cry, CRY!
12 days later (and many hours on that uncomfortable chair) our angel, miracle child came home. It has been the most unbelievable experience, seeing this tiny thing take 1 hour to drink 50ml of milk to taking 5 minutes to drink 150ml of milk. She has grown from 2kg to OVER 10kgs in a year! She met most of her milestones on time and she’s almost walking!
I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, but to the mom and dad in the NICU, know that your baby will surprise you daily, there will be setbacks, but next year this time you’ll look back and marvel at this miracle that has unfolded right in front of your eyes.
World Prematurity Day aims to educate citizens on prematurity and support an urgent call to halve the under 5-mortality rate between the years 2010 and 2025, this is in accordance with the fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG). As a player within the baby care industry, Huggies® annually supports this day to further drive awareness, not only through spreading the message but by supporting Wear Purple for Preemies which is an initiative created by the Newborns Groote Schuur Trust. South Africans can purchase the World Prematurity Day sticker for R10 and proudly wear purple along with the sticker on World Prematurity Day to show their support.
The funds raised through this initiative aim to improve healthcare to premature babies. A reality within South African hospitals is that the facilities are overcrowded. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Groote Schuur hospital reports a frequent occupancy rate of 120% as opposed to the desired 80% occupation rate. Overcrowding may lead to an increased risk of infection and further complications for these babies. By donating funds to neonatal facilities and programmes babies born as early as 26 weeks will have a fighting chance (80% chance of survival) as the unit will be able to offer improved facilities and more space to patients, provide up to date medical treatment and the opportunity to facilitate kangaroo care.
To further show their support to parents and premature babies, Huggies® will be donating Huggies ® Preemie nappies to some Neonatal Care Units to play their part in offering fragile little babies optimum protection to help them thrive. The nappies are highly absorbent and made from soft, breathable materials. We have tailored the nappies to fit correctly as oversized nappies can cause the baby to lie with their legs in a ‘frog like’ position, which hampers muscle tone development, a major challenging factor in premature babies’ motor skills development.